2011-06-23 / Schools
Safe a ‘second parent’ to CVHS students
Students across the street at Starbucks know the drill: They have five minutes to get to school.
“I have a voice that carries, but I don’t have to yell. It works,” said the Thousand Oaks resident, who began the routine because the school’s electronic bell can’t be heard off campus.
Safe has maintained CVHS students’ attendance and academic records for 12 years. All 210 students know her. But when she gave the commencement speech June 11, she began by introducing herself.
“I am the one who met you at the front counter when you came to register, gave you tons of paperwork to complete and tried to allay your fears about attending a school with a ‘rep,’” she told 135 graduates.
Students at the continuation school don’t deserve the negative reputation they’re often saddled with, Safe said a few days after commencement.
“Who cares if someone has green hair? What makes a difference is what’s inside,” she said.
Before joining CVHS, Safe worked in Thousand Oaks High School’s attendance and registrar’s offices and athletic department for 25 years.
She wanted a change. When it came, she embraced CVHS’ small community.
“I love it here. At this school you can make a difference in a child’s life every day. At bigger schools with 2,500 students you don’t get to create the same bonds,” she said.
“I love the kids. They’re my reason for coming to school every day,” said Safe, who does not have children of her own.
“They say good morning to me and I smile and say good morning to them. Sometimes they’re their only smiles and good mornings of the day. And I want it to come from me,” she said.
Safe—who signs her emails “B Safe”—delights in seeing positive changes in students during their time at CVHS.
“One student comes to mind. She was a terror at the beginning. We (at the office) would cringe when we saw her. Now she wants to be a nurse and is getting A-pluses. That kind of change is exciting,” she said.
Other improvements are more subtle.
“Some become more polite or seem to have a more positive attitude,” she said.
When Principal Martin Manzer asked Safe to speak at graduation, she felt honored for a couple of reasons.
“One, Principal Manzer felt confident enough in me to offer that to me. Two, I’m a classified (non-teaching) employee. Very rarely does a classified employee get asked to speak at graduation. It made me feel proud,” the registrar said.
Counselor Catherine Kanney, who has worked with Safe for the past year, said she’s like a second parent to students.
“She loves them unconditionally. They know she cares about them. They feel it,” Kanney said. “They may be tardy and she’ll say, ‘What’s going on?’ They respond well. They know it’s coming from a good place. It’s not negative. . . .
“She loves being here and it shows. Some parents might be apprehensive about bringing their kids to a continuation school, but when they meet her—and all the staff—they see their child will be in good hands,” Kanney said.
On graduation day, Safe offered the same encouragement she’s given students for almost four decades.
“You set your goal towards graduation and made it,” she told the class of 2011.
“Now attack your next goal, be it college, the military or the workforce with the same effort and energy. You proved that you can do it once. Now do it again.”